Review: Limitless isn’t

As I mentioned in a previous review, the gimmick for this year’s new TV shows is to have a TV show sequel to a hit film. In this case the show is the new CBS series “Limitless” based on the 2011 film of the same name starring Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro.

The premise of both (and the 2014 film Lucy) is based on the often quoted yet scientifically unsubstantiated factoid that we only use 10% of our brain. After attributing some equally unscientific higher number to Einstein, the theory posits that if we could use a higher percentage we would have all sorts of superpowers. Both Limitless and Lucy have its protagonists achieve this through a supersecret drug. Lucy took it to an extreme where she could manipulate people by mind control, manipulate matter, the forces of nature, perceive electronic transmissions with her bare eyes, and basically transcend time and space. Fortunately Limitless (either the film or the show) doesn’t quite take it to those ridiculous extremes. It does however use the same “take a smart pill” premise.

In this case it simply makes you supersmart and gives you access to everything you ever seen or heard, everything you have learned and a phenomenal computing ability. So even on the premise is just as flawed and somewhat ridiculous, once you buy the premise, the show seem reasonably self consistent.

The show takes place in the same world as the film. Bradley Cooper who started the film appears near the end of the opening episode in the same character he played in the film. He probably will not be seen very much. The star of the show is Jake McDormand you may recognize from last season’s failed sitcom “Manhattan Love Story” or as Mike Pratt on Shameless. Here he plays a somewhat down on his luck guy named Brian Finch who can only get temp jobs. An old friend of his gives him this smart pill called NZT which allowed him to do two month’s worth of filing at his temp job in just a few hours. When he goes back to get more of the drug, he finds his friend has been murdered. He becomes a suspect but eventually convinces an FBI agent that he’s innocent. The agent is played by Jennifer Carpenter whom you will remember as Detective Debra Morgan who was sister to serial killer/CSI technician Dexter in the Showtime series Dexter. I guess she has no worries about being typecast as a cop.

In the end he convinces them that he is innocent. He ends up working as a consultant to the government to help them solve crimes and unlock the mysteries of the special drug. Meanwhile he was always up connected to the Bradley Cooper character who has some of those secrets about the drug.

If you want a slightly less sci-fi version of Minority Report with some of the conspiracy and intrigue of The Blacklist and/or Blindspot then this may be just the ticket. I will end up watching it for a while but I think that Minority Report, Blindspot, The Blacklist were perhaps the new FBI recruit series Quantico may be better bets in the long run. For now I’m watching it but as I have said before I will watch even bad sci-fi. I would say this is slightly below average but still watchable. With all of the other semi sci-fi and procedural detective consultant shows on TV this one might not last. My prediction is that Limitless isn’t.

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